According to his WWI draft card1, Officer John Marena was based out of Station 10 in Roxbury. As part of the Historic American Buildings Survey, the Library of Congress holds photographs of the old station building2, which was one of the first municipal buildings constructed after the annexation of Roxbury in 1868.
The station was located on Columbus Avenue, between the intersection with Tremont Street (William Pynchon Square) and that with Roxbury Street (Hanley Square).3
The station was just under a mile from Lena’s apartment, along Tremont Street and Huntington Avenue.
While police cars were in use in some parts of the country at this time, it is just as likely that Officer Marena might have been on horseback or even on foot.
Perhaps his mode of transportation was the reason that he directed Lena to the City Hospital, rather than taking her there himself.4 She may have taken a taxi or the electric streetcar the two and a half miles to City Hospital.
A recording of a streetcar journey through Boston, including part of Huntington Avenue, in 1903 is available to view on YouTube:
It is perhaps more likely that an ambulance was called. Both the police force and the hospital itself had ambulances available for transport of patients.5
Typically, at this period in time, the patient would receive no medical care prior to arrival at the hospital. Those individuals hired to drive the ambulances were given no medical training. A simple communication system existed, by which a call was made from the front gate of the hospital as the ambulance arrived. A doctor would be summoned to meet the incoming ambulance when it pulled up to the building.6
Boston City Hospital, seen below, was built in the early 1860s on the site of the Agricultural Fair Grounds on the South End of Boston. The location was not ideal, as the land flooded at high tide. A massive amount of gravel was carted in to the site in order to raise the average ground level by seven feet.7
The hospital was originally founded to provide medical care to those stricken by poverty, who could not otherwise afford treatment. Paying patients were, of course, also accepted. Semi-private rooms and other services not typically provided by the hospital required payment. Most patients were housed in wards like that seen below:
It was here, in a ward like this, that Lena likely found herself on the night of September 20, 1917. And here where, no doubt to her great relief, she was informed that her condition was not considered serious.9
1 “U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 October 2017), Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Dorchester City, Draft Board 21, John Vernal Marena entry, dated 12 September 1918; citing Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.
2 Cheek, Richard. Police Station No. 10, 1170 Columbus Avenue, Boston, Suffolk County, MA. October 1979. Photograph. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Accessed 3 Oct 2017. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ma1206/>
3 Bromley, George Washington, and Walter Scott Bromley. Atlas of the City of Boston: Roxbury. G.W. Bromley and Co., 1915.
4 “Lena Smith, Discouraged, Takes Poison Tablets”, Boston Daily Globe, 21 Sep 1917, p 4 col 2.
5 “A History of the Boston City Hospital from its Foundation Until 1904”. Boston: Municipal Printing Office, 1906.
6 Weaver, Jay. “The Origins of the City of Boston Ambulance Service.” 13 Oct 2013. <https://www.facebook.com/notes/boston-ems-incidents/the-origins-of-the-city-of-boston-ambulance-service-by-former-boston-paramedic-j/564361816970965/>
7 “A History of the Boston City Hospital”.
8 E. Chickering & Co. Boston City Hospital, Harrison Ave., Boston, Mass. 1903. Photograph. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Accessed 5 Oct 2017. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007661080/>
9 “Lena Smith, Discouraged, Takes Poison Tablets”.